Specialty license plate program expands to nearly 2 million tags
Sen. Aaron Bean says slap a plate on it.

Some plates are massively popular. Others have to worry about the 'Hunger Games.'

The state’s specialty license plate program is nearing 2 million tags as of this writing, the Florida Senate Transportation Committee heard.

Some tags are more popular than others. The “Endless Summer” and “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” tags are the most prevalent, each with more than 100,000 subscriptions.

University of Florida (UF), Florida State University, the Miami Heat, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers plates also are among the most popular, the latter two after recent redesigns.

The UF plate is expected to become even more popular given its own recent redesign, said Robert Kynock, Director of Motorist Services for the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV).

Other specialty tags have far fewer adherents, however, and some of Tuesday’s presentation dealt with the process, one that started in 1986 with a plate commemorating the doomed Space Shuttle Challenger and has been growing since.

All told, 144 tags are authorized, with 109 active, current manufactured tags and another 35 in the “presale” phase, Kynock noted.

“Those are the newer plates that are trying to get to the manufacturing process,” Kynock noted. At least 3,000 presale vouchers are a prerequisite for manufacturing.

Out-of-state license plates from Auburn University and the University of Alabama are still in presale mode, while the University of Georgia has graduated from presale and should be manufactured soon, Kynock said.

The legislation was passed last year tweaking the program to allow 135 plates to be made available, a compromise agreed to by the House. The original Senate bill language contemplated a cap of 150 plates.

“The Department cannot engage in manufacturing any more than 135 plates at one time,” Kynock said, summarizing the bill.

Revenue goes to sponsoring organizations, and in aggregate, the program is profitable for the nonprofits, with more than $49 million being distributed from DHSMV last year.

“Plates have to maintain currently a 1,000-plate status,” Kynock said, with a 3,000-plate threshold to be imposed in July. There is an element of risk in the process.

The “Hunger Games” provision requires the Department to discontinue the lowest-performing plate, Kynock noted. Plates below the threshold get a year for their sponsors to get their numbers up.

Vice Chair Tracie Davis, a Jacksonville Democrat, had questions about the “Divine Nine” plate, and that plate is over the 3,000-presale threshold and is now being manufactured. That plate honors traditionally Black fraternities and sororities at Florida universities.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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